Saudi Arabia broke all records in tourism and travel in 2023: WTTC

GDP contribution, jobs and tourism receipts reach record highs
/ New Delhi
Saudi Arabia broke all records in tourism and travel in 2023: WTTC
Saudi Arabia broke all records in tourism and travel in 2023: WTTC

International visitor spending surged by almost 57 pc to reach SAR 227.4 billion

A report by World Travel Tourism Council says that Saudi Arabia registered new records across various parameters of travel and tourism, including economic contribution, employment and tourism receipts.
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Travel and tourism sector in Saudi Arabia grew by over 32 pc in 2023 to reach a record SAR 444.2 billion (USD 118.5 billion) to Saudi Arabia’s Gross Domestic Product, with a share of 11.5 pc of the total GDP in the country.

This is among a series of findings released by the World Travel and Tourism Council in its 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR), in collaboration with Oxford Economics, that shows a record-breaking year for travel and tourism in Saudi Arabia, with new records in GDP contribution, sector jobs and visitor spend.

In a press statement, WTTC says that Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector is now soaring past all previous records, testament to the country’s commitment to becoming a global tourism hot spot.

WTTC says that the GDP contribution of the sector in 2023 exceeds the previous record by almost 30 pc and underscores the sector’s pivotal new role in the nation’s economic framework.

It adds that the number of jobs supported by the sector grew by 436,000 to reach more than 2.5 million, representing almost one in five jobs in the country.

WTTC says that although the jobs lost during the pandemic were fully recovered in 2022, the report shows that employment in travel and tourism has increased almost 24 pc since the previous peak.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO

Julia Simpson

Additionally, international visitor spending surged by almost 57 pc to reach SAR 227.4 billion, breaking the previous record by SAR 93.6 billion, while domestic visitor spending grew by 21.5 pc to reach SAR 142.5 billion.

WTTC adds that Saudi Arabia welcomed 100 million tourists in 2023, seven years ahead of its target of 2030. The country is surging toward even greater heights and has set a more ambitious aim of attracting 150 million tourists by 2030, it adds.

Ahmed Al-Khateeb

Ahmed Al Khateeb

“Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector’s extraordinary achievements last year mark a pivotal moment in its journey towards becoming a global tourism leader. This success is a direct result of the Kingdom’s visionary commitment to the sector, showcasing an impressive fusion of cultural heritage and innovative tourism initiatives. As the sector continues to expand, it promises to play a crucial role in the nation’s diversified economic future, while contributing significantly to global travel and tourism development,’’ says Julia Simpson, President & CEO, WTTC.

“The latest data from WTTC provides further evidence of the rapid success we have achieved in transforming Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry. Tourism is a key pillar of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plans and we have made great strides promoting investment in the sector, with more than USD 800 billion earmarked by 2030, as well as creating new jobs and growing the contribution of tourism to GDP,” says Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism, Saudi Arabia and Chairman, Executive Council of UN Tourism.

Robust growth ahead

The WTTC report forecasts a long period of sustained and robust growth for travel and tourism in Saudi Arabia. WTTC says that the sector is forecast to continue growing at pace in 2024, with GDP contribution set to reach SAR 498 billion, while jobs will increase by more than 158,000 jobs to reach nearly 2.7 million.

International visitor spending is projected to reach SAR 256 billion, almost double the previous high point, and domestic visitor spending is forecast to reach SAR 155.2 billion.

The global tourism body is forecasting that the sector will grow its annual GDP contribution to SAR 836.1 billion by 2034, almost 16 pc of the Saudi Arabian economy, and will employ more than 3.6 million people across the country, with one in five people working in the sector.

WTTC adds that the Middle Eastern travel and tourism sector grew by more than 25 pc in 2023 to reach almost USD 460 billion and jobs reached nearly 7.75 million, while international spending grew by 50 pc to reach USD 179.8 billion. Domestic visitor spending grew by 16.5 pc to reach more than USD 205 billion.

WTTC says its forecast is that the Middle Eastern travel and tourism sector will continue to grow throughout 2024 with the GDP contribution set to reach USD 507 billion. Jobs are forecast to reach 8.3 million, international visitor spending is forecast to reach USD 198 billion while domestic visitor spending is expected to reach more than USD 224 billion.

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